5 for Friday: 5 More Soups

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It’s been a couple months, but I did try 5 more soups from The Soup Cleanse Cookbook. You can read about this cookbook here. It’s more about what you are putting into your body on a daily basis than any real type of crazy cleanse.

Here is what I learned and an account of what soups I’d make again (or not):

Recipes I’ve tried from each category:

  • Purees
    • Butternut Turmeric – This one called for roasting a whole butternut squash. To save time, I bought this big bag of frozen cubed butternut squash from Costco.
    • Turns out I didn’t quite need this much. 🙂  Just one package inside was enough:
    • This is nice warming soup to sip on a cold winter or early spring morning.
  • Beans & Lentils
    • Chickpea Stew Last post, when I didn’t remember the Lentil & Kale Stew, it was because I didn’t eat it yet! (I did this time around and it was good, though not great.) Instead, I had the Chickpea Stew Last time. I do remember that I didn’t like that we pureed some of the chickpeas and it gave it a gritty texture.
    • Here is a photo of the Lentil & Kale Stew, which could have been a bit more flavorful:
  • Sweeter Spoonfuls
    • Creamy Cocoa with Sweet Potatoes – Here is a recipe that illustrates how forgiving these recipes are. I had 4 recipes this week that called for either cubed butternut squash or sweet potato. When I was half-way through one of my soups, I realized I put in the wrong one! Oh well. So I don’t know what actually went into this one, I’m thinking butternut squash. But I loved it. This was always always a treat in the morning or after work. And the the black rice at the bottom was such a nice addition.
  • Stews
    • Winter Root Vegetable Stew – The author raves about this recipe and I have loved all the stews so far, but something about this one didn’t jive with me. It was a little… sweet? I could argue it was the sweet potato, because I really don’t like them very much because of their sweetness; but who knows if it was the butternut squash that went into this stew instead? The celeriac was much more difficult to find than I thought. I really thought I’ve bought this in the past without any trouble. It took me 4 tries and my final destination was Byerly’s.
    • BRIGHT SIDE – I didn’t use all of the collard greens that went into this dish. So instead, I used them as a bed in place of rice in this Saucy Moroccan Chicken dish. Greens FTW!
  • Restorative Broths
    • Pumpkin and Mushrooms with Star Anise Broth – If you remember, Centeno’s broths are not strained, so you get all of the nutritional goodness of the veggies used to simmer the broth. They also are filling and warming in the evening when you think you may need a snack. This soup recommended pumpkin, kabocha or butternut squash (probably because they are all hearty) and I believe this is the one (along with the Creamy Cocoa soup above) that I accidentally swapped the butternut and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes seemed to disintegrate a little bit… and while I absolutely love fresh mushrooms, they tended to get a rubbery texture on reheating. I found myself sipping this as a true broth and not chewing on or eating the vegetables.

All in all, some success… But I may hang my hat up on souping until the chill of the fall now that spring and summer is finally here!

Cheers~
Carrie

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5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading (Not Doing!)

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Whoa! Where did the time go?! Well, a lot has been going on; but before I dive in, I wanted to share this last list of books I found in my drafts. I sure do have some catching up to do!

~

This is probably my most diverse reading list yet. Okay, so there might be two cookbooks in here, but we’ve also got fiction, nonfiction, audio and a… play?!

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Weeknight Cooking for Two
by Kenzie Swanhart (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a read

I love that all of these recipes serve just two people and have only 5-ish ingredients. I now own the cookbook and have flagged a dozen recipes, but I have yet to make one single dish. I’m still in the market for the best, flavorful tomato soup. So the Creamy Tomato Soup will be up first to bat.

~

Overwhelmed:
Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time

by Brigid Schulte (nonfiction, audio) – worth a listen/read

If you are a mom, especially a busy mom… or one that feels guilty about anything for any reason, you should read this book. Don’t have time to read it? You should listen to it.

But this book isn’t all about motherhood, it’s about life… and work-life balance and our busy culture in America. There were times when this book made me downright mad. Because I listened to the audio, there was no way I could flag all of the pieces I wanted to.

But I love the perspectives and the bright spots. And there are good chunks of information at the end on what can be changed to ensure a more happy, fulfilling and less crazy-busy life!

~

These is My Words:
The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901

by Nancy E. Turner (fiction) – must listen/read

I believe this book was on a list of books that all women should read. I honestly thought it was a true story until I got about a quarter through the book when U thought that it couldn’t be and had to look it up! It’s not entirely true, but inspired by diaries from one woman’s ancestors.

Think Oregon Trail, but in the Old Southwest. Arizona Territory to be exact. Covered wagons? Check. Snake bites? Check. Dysentery? Check. Only it’s So. Much. More.

I absolutely loved it and since the only way I could listen was via the downloaded audio on my phone, it kept my earbuds in and me cleaning up a storm! I’m thoroughly interested in listening to Sarah’s Quilt so I can remain in Sarah’s world for a while longer. (Not that I would have been able to successfully live in her world by any means!)

~

Les Belles Soeurs
by Michel Tremblay (play, fiction) – SKIP

I don’t think I’ve ever read a play before… except maybe Romeo and Juliet in high school? Still, I think the written form of this script was lost on me, perhaps the English translation, too, since this was orginally written in Qubecois French in the 60s. I found the piece because it ended up on a list of Quebecois books before we went to Canada. I also read Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, which I didn’t really love either.

The women in this play were just nasty to each other and I didn’t really get anything out of the story. I had to look up other reviews on good reads to see if I really missed something. Those reviews are definitely mixed!

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Great Bowls of Food
by Robin Asbell (nonfiction, cookbook) – Skip

I am a sucker for a good bowl. Here. here. here and here. For me, it’s like healthy comfort food. What I did like about this book is that I discovered a few sauces to add to my bowl repertoire-link, such as the Creamy Goat Cheese and Tomato Sauce. What I didn’t like was that all of the bowls made four servings and weren’t always easily scale-able down to one. I also would have preferred the ingredient lists to be broken down a bit. You know, when a recipes shows “for the sauce” or for the “roasted vegetables” or when there are different pieces of the dish made separately, which often happens in bowl meals. I think that would have made them seem less overwhelming. I do think I may put the Cure a Cold Brothy Bowl in the rotation though, if I should have enough energy (and all the ingredients on hand!)

~

Have you ever read a play??

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading

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I have found a way to bring even more reading into my life… I’m not much of an e-reader person. I don’t own one nor a tablet and I’ve tried to read a bit on my phone, with little success. (I’m easily distracted.) So, generally, I read traditional books at night before bed. I listen to audiobooks on CD in the car on my commute. And now, I listen to e-audiobooks downloaded from the library onto my phone while I’m working around the house.

For some reason, with this round of books, many have been made into movies! With a few exceptions, I usually find the book better than the movie. But consider how many hours you invest in a book versus a movie!

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Evidence Not Seen
by Darlene Deibler Rose (nonfiction) – worth a read

Even if you know me pretty well, you probably don’t know that I don’t subscribe to any one particular religion. I do believe in a greater power; but how can we believe that one religion is right and all others are wrong? I find that sometimes individual religions get caught up in the details. That being said, I will tell you that this book is one that I would have never picked up in my life if I would had known just how much specific religious beliefs were entwined in the story…

I chose it because it was on a list of books every woman should read… and my local library only offered it as an e-audiobook. I started listening to it while I was doing housework – washing dishes and putting away laundry all with earbuds in my ears! (I have found that if I just put it on in the background, I don’t listen to it as closely and it becomes just that – background.)

But this memoir is truly a wonderful account of a woman as a WWII POW in New Guinea. This was a part of World War II of which I had no knowledge and I felt enriched both mentally and spiritually afterward.

Shhh!!! Don’t tell my mother-in-law, I bought this book for her for Mother’s Day. I think she will love it.

~

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle 
(fiction) – worth a read

My fourth grade teacher read this book out loud to us, but even though I was a good student, I didn’t pay attention. To be honest, I don’t know why. Maybe it was a time in my life that I got easily distracted. Maybe the book didn’t capture me at the get-go. I don’t think of myself as one who easily gets into fantasy or sci-fi novels. But it took the movie coming out for me to be inspired to read it on my own.

Better 30 years later than never, right?

It still took me some time to get into. While a few of the characters and little blurbs did come back to me, I still kept thinking, this is a children’s/middle grade book?! I read an article where one of L’Engle’s granddaughters read it at seven years old! I can’t even imagine that. I still felt lost by much of the symbolism and parallels within it. I felt like deep within, I was missing so much of it. Although, I’ve read several accounts of readers getting something different out of it each time they read it.

But in the end, it tells so much… and in so many ways. I can see why this book stands the test of time. (Pun not intended.)

I have not yet seen the movie. Would anyone recommend it?

~

NOW EAT THIS!
150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods All Under 350 Calories

by Rocco DiSpirto (nonfiction, cookbook) – Skip

Rocco DiSpirito is a Celebrity Chef who has learned how to lose weight by adapting recipes using his culinary skills. I appreciate his ability to create adaptations to America’s comfort foods; but this book wasn’t really for me. So many of the dishes are ones that I don’t really crave or eat often. And sometimes, he substitutes reduced-this and sugar-free-that items that are loaded with chemicals and fake foods.

All of that being said, I did flag an Onion-Garlic Puree in the Sauces section which consists of just onion, garlic, water and S&P. He says that it “is designed to be a base ingredient and is a great way to build flavor and texture without adding fat.” I’m intrigued. It’s recommended in making mac and cheese without a lot of butter or cream or in stirring into sauces or soups. It also goes into the only other recipe I flagged in this book: Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce.

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EVERTHING, EVERYTHING
by Nicola Yoon (fiction) – worth a read

I sometimes think I’m not into YA novels, but then I realize I devoured ones like The Hunger Games. After picking this book up from the library after being on hold, I almost took it back with the intent to read something else. I’m glad I didn’t. I needed something like this. While the themes of the book are not light, the reading was quick and easy. I loved looking at life from a new {and perhaps more grateful} perspective.

Sometimes I need a quick, easy ready to even out all of the other books in my life.  Apparently, this book is a movie, now, too.

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Being There
by Jerzy Kosinski (fiction) – worth a read?

I pulled this book off my TBR shelf after seeing the movie. The book was written in 1970, but the movie filmed almost a decade later. I do like the concept of the novel – a man with no background getting ahead in society just by uttering very few words, despite his upbringing and education (or lack thereof). But I still didn’t get any closure or understanding of the ending. I kind of wanted to throw the book up against the wall!

I haven’t read many books from the 70s. Was this the style?

~

Do you prefer to read the book before seeing a movie adaptation?
If you’ve seen a movie, would you go back and read the book?
Why?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: 5 Movies I Watched Last Week

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Usually, when my husband goes out of town I post about all the fun food I cooked that he can’t normally eat. (I did that here, here, here and here.)

Instead, this week I’m posting about 5 movies that I watched during the eight days my husband was on vacay. Normally, my husband is the one who is in search of the movies for us to watch, whether it be at home or in the theater. I just like not having to think. But in my library account a couple of weeks ago, I found a “list” I created some time ago. It was probably collected from movies recommended on a blog.

And it’s not that my husband wouldn’t watch any of these movies. In fact, I think he would have liked almost all of them. It’s just sometimes the timing has to be right. Some of these movies I checked out on DVD from my local library, one or two I found on Netflix, and I believe one I found on Amazon Prime for free.

These are most likely movies the mainstream has not seen! If you click on the title, you can get a description and sometimes a trailer of each movie at imdb.com.

In no particular order, here they are:

Hector and the Search for Happiness
2014

This movie almost has it all. A feel-good movie at it’s best, it has love, humor and even adventure. Highly recommended.

~

The Grocer’s Son (Le fils de l’épicier) 
2007

I love foreign films, but especially French ones so I can brush up a bit. This one is quintessentially French, not in the upbeat, romanticized way that Amélie feels to the outsider (although I adore that movie!); but in a more rugged, real sort of way. In any case, I enjoyed it. So should anyone who has a family member who is an outcast or feels like an outsider. Recommended.

~

Madame Bovary
2014

This is probably the 6th version of this story ever filmed. This adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s novel is entirely in English. It made me realize that I had never read the book or saw any of the prior films. How can this be? It was time. It’s a classic tragedy that, although set in the 1800s, stands the test of time. Recommended.

~

Being There
1979

I have no idea where I found this film and what inspired me to put it on a wish list! I was a child when this film with adult themes debuted, so there was probably no other way I would have ever watched it. Oh how movies have changed in the past 30-40 years! I felt it a bit slow-moving; but that can just be what I’m used to these days. Interestingly Peter Sellers, who played the main character, was nominated for an Oscar in this role and won a Golden Globe for it as well. He died about six months later.

I did like the movie, but I didn’t quite understand the ending. (I also didn’t like the title. Just a simple The Gardener would have sufficed.) The screenplay was adapted from the book, by the author, so it prompted me to look it up. It was on my list of “short” books (under 200 pages) and on my (literal) TBR shelf. It ended up being the next book I read. (More on that in a book post!)

And although the protagonist is not autistic, because of the movie Rain Man, I pictured Dustin Hoffman playing this role within the first ten minutes of viewing this movie. Interestingly, he narrates the audiobook version!

~

The Hedgehog (Le hérisson)
2009

When I first slipped this French movie into the DVD player, I forgot to adjust to English subtitles. Then I realized, I was understanding nearly every word the girl was reciting! (As long as they speak clearly enough, I usually can get the general gist in most movies, but often put on subtitles when Rob is around or for extra help.)

Then I realized that I had seen this movie before! I don’t know when or where, but I had a vague recollection of the characters.

I didn’t remember everything; however and actually gasped?! shrieked?! out loud during the main turning point in the movie. It was an excellent rewatch. And while the thought of an 11-year-old planning a suicide attempt sounds dark, it’s not as depressing as that. It turns into a feel-good movie of sorts, highlighting many aspects of the human condition, in the most French way possible. Highly recommended

~

I guess I was in the need for a few feel-good movies this week!

What kind of movies do you like to watch when you are alone?
What are your favorite feel-good movies?
I’d love to add them to my future watch list!

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve updated on what I’ve been reading. {Well, other than soup cookbooks or books about hygge!} Still, I have been reading a good mix of fiction, non-fiction, print and audio that it’s about time to let you in on what else I’ve read so far this year.

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The Art of War
by Sun Tzu (nonfiction) – skip

This one came up on a list somewhere. I thought maybe it was one that included classics or texts that everyone should read. But truthfully, I think I found it on a list of “books you can read in a day”. Well, I didn’t because it really didn’t capture my attention. Yes, it’s great that we have a piece of this history available to us, but reading about strategies of war is not exactly my idea of a good time.

~

Good Karma
by Christina Kelly 
(fiction) – worth a read

With a photo of dog on the cover, I thought this book was going to be more about a dog than it really was. My hardest part was getting past the beginning – mostly the reality of the transition into retirement not being what one expects. Probably because I could see myself thinking entirely those things. But with a Savannah backdrop, a happy ending and a book including a dog, the read was a nice little escape.

~

The Perfume Collector
by Kathleen Tessaro (fiction) – worth a read

This book was handed to me by my mother-in-law last fall, who enjoyed it and encouraged me to read it. My TBR pile is quite large, but I wanted to make sure I’d read it before we visit again. She knows I love stories that take place in Paris! I also loved the historical context, a little empowerment of women along the way as well as the beautiful descriptors of scent as an art!

~

Madonna in a Fur Coat
by Sabahattin Ali (fiction) – worth a read/listen

I came across this book on a list of underrated books. The only way I could get my hands on a copy was by downloading it on audio from the library. For some reason, I am unable to get the volume high enough when I try to play books in the car connected via bluetooth, so this one is one I’d listen to at home with my earbuds in while I was doing dishes or putting the laundry away.

I really enjoyed it and it kept me cleaning! I knew nothing about the book in advance, which may have been why I read it. But I will tell you that it takes place in Turkey and Germany in the 20s and features a woman whose quotes I would have highlighted often if I had been reading the book in print! I guess you could say it’s a love story… but I feel that sometimes that is what turns people off from reading. It’s much more than that.

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The Power
by Rhonda Byrne (fiction) – must listen

I’m a huge fan of The Secret, The Power, The Magic books. After I first read The Secret, I started keeping a gratitude journal. It changed my focus on what was going wrong on a daily basis to what was going right. Back when I was doing in-home wine tastings, a woman on my team said that she not only read the book, but had the audio version that she’d listen to in her car. I found it genius to listen to positive practices on repeat!

When The Power came out, I never bought it in print, only on audio. Unfortunately, I lost the CDs in our car accident two years ago because they always stayed in my car. On a side note, perhaps it was because of gratitude that we walked away from that event because if you read my post, the words “thank you for our safety” went through my head during each turn of our rollover.

Still, I recently found a used library copy of the audio version of The Power on Thriftbooks {<–referral link} and I once again have my own to listen to whenever I desire. It felt really good to listen to it again. It’s like it came back into my life at the right time. Which means that the universe is always responding!

~

What is the most underrated book you’ve read?

Cheers~
Carrie

Asian Beef Dishes in 10 Minutes (from the best cookbook)

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Yes, I’m still making my way through the best cookbook that you’ve never read!

And I have two new, husband-approved winners!

Each of Jules’s recipes serves two, which is perfect for us since my husband hates leftovers. I had a pound of ground beef thawing in the fridge, which meant I could use 1/2 lb one night and save the other half for another dish. Also, each recipe in 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes has only 5 ingredients (not including cooking oil, S&P) and should take about 10 minutes or less.

~

Hokkien Noodles with Minced Beef

Ingredients: fresh hokkien noodles or Singapore noodles, ground beef, spring onions, baby bok choy, sweet soy sauce or oyster sauce

Here are my notes with my adaptations in blue:

  • Jules’s recipe called for fresh hokkien noodles or singapore noodles, which I had never heard of before. I’m guessing she chose those for this recipe for their adaptability to Asian dishes and perhaps how quickly they cook. When I saw this package of hokkien noodles, I picked them up:
  • Not exactly fresh, but definitely quick! 
  • I used the 90-second microwave instructions and then added them to the dish. There is one more package left in there. Each one was 2 servings. Now, if I could only remember where I found them. My guess is Cub Foods.
  • I used scallions/green onions in place of the spring onions. They are very similar.
  • I chose this recipe because I had leftover bok choy from one of the soups I made from the Soup Cleanse Cookbook. But I think you could use virtually any vegetable that suits your fancy for an Asian dish here. {I’m looking at you, broccoli!}
  • We use tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce in place of the sweet soy or oyster sauce. We aren’t gluten-free in our household; we have just found it to be the best tasting. I’ve tried regular soy, low-sodium soy and cocount aminos over the years and it seems that we often prefer the dishes when I use tamari. I haven’t cooked many Asian dishes at home in the past because I’m always stumped on what to use in place of certain things like fish sauce or oyster sauce since Rob is allergic to the sea, seafood. As of late, I’ve just been using tamari the place of any of these ingredients with much success!
  • Also, whenever I am making an Asian dish that calls for olive oil, I do substitute at least a portion of that for sesame seed oil because I feel like this gives the dish a little more Asian flavor as well.
  • We may have ended up with less noodles than the original, but I think the ratio was perfect for us. 
  • Sriracha – Yes, I served this dish to Rob with the bottle on the side so that we could adjust the spice to taste and kick it up notch or two!
  • Rob commented about how well I seasoned the meat. The only thing is… I didn’t. 🙂 Whenever I know there is soy sauce or sriracha in a dish, I know that the sodium level is up there and there really is no reason to add any additional.
  • With the pre-cooked package of hokkien noodles, this dish took right around the 10 minutes.
  • This is now a dish in our rotation!

~

Super Simple Sang Choi Bau

Ingredients: ground beef, water chestnuts, dried chili flakes, oyster sauce, iceberg lettuce

Here are my notes with my adaptations in blue:

  • Let’s start with the water chestnuts. My husband loves them, which is why I wanted to try out this recipe on him. The recipe called for a 225g can (approx 8 ounces). Mine was less than that and it was all I had. But my husband still thought there were a few too many. We have decided to make a note for next time that our ratio should be 1 can of water chestnuts to 1-lb ground beef (instead of a 1/2 lb), because the flavor was still great! <<–Note to self.
  • We used tamari in place of the oyster sauce (see above).
  • While I think these would make nice lettuce wraps, I didn’t have any on hand. We served it over a bit of precooked rice I had in the freezer instead. (Recipe photo on the left, my dish on the right):
  • Also used a little sesame seed oil in place of some olive oil when cooking the beef.
  • And, again, sriracha was served on the side.
  • So easy. Rob actually wants leftovers of this to take to work.
  • This dish took right around the 10 minutes.
  • Another dish in our rotation!

Thanks, Jules, for some quick, easy dishes!

Do you have any quick, easy go-to Asian dishes or sauces you’d like to share?

Cheers~
Carrie

Books about Hygge

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Have you heard of hygge? {Pronounced hoo-ga.} I’ve seen the word so many times over the past year that I had to do some digging.

Scandanavians consistently rank as some of the happiest in the world, most notably the Danes. Some think it has to do with a little something they call hygge. It’s a way of life, a state of being, but it is not entirely easily to translate.

The word originates from the proto-language Old Norse – hyggja means thinking and feeling satisfied and is related to finding shelter, rest and safety, and regaining energy and courage. ~ from Hygge by Marie Tourell Soderberg

Still, you’d be surprised to how many activities to it can be referred! Here’s what I explored to learn more about hygge.

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The Book of Hygge
by Louisa Thomsen Brits 
(nonfiction) – skip

This book sometimes read more like a thesis or a professional journal than it did a book. I almost came away more confused about hygge than when I started. But in the end, I learned that everything can be hygge (just like everything can be yoga). It’s a way of life, but most likely learned subconcsiously. That’s why describing it is so hard.

“Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s the things we do that give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous.”

It encompasses the following:

  • Belonging (inclusivity)
  • Shelter (within our homes, our lives, ourselves, our family)
  • Comfort (feeling welcome, warm, safe)
  • Well-being (contentedness)
  • Simplicity (and authenticity)
  • Observerance (mindfulness)

~

The Little Book of Hygge
by Meik Wiking 
(nonfiction) – worth a read!

Whenever I would encounter a little something about hygge, this is the book that was always recommended to learn more. And I see why! I learned so much about the Danish culture and think I have a pretty good grasp now on what hygge is.

When I’d read about it online, it was often referred to as coziness or that feeling of warmth and togetherness that we often feel during the holidays when we gather with friends and family. While both of those are the case, being alone, sipping on a cup of something warm and a good book can be hygge, too. It’s a sense of safety and security, but can also mean having a good time. It’s just the right lighting and warming up after coming in from out of the cold. But it can also be visiting a cabin in summer. It’s everyone pitching in and creating such a good time and feeling included to do so. It’s simplifying and getting everyday enjoyment out of life with your loved ones.

This book is written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (yes, that exists!) I feel compelled to travel to Denmark now, but am perplexed which time would be best. I am not a winter person, but that seems like it might be the hyggest time! This book comes with recipes, too.

I felt the hygge just reading this book. 🙂

~

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness
by Marie Tourell Soderberg (nonfiction) – worth a read

I was drawn to the cover of this book, as I am often to blue covers. The glow of the yellow light on the cover also cast a hygge-like spell that made me want to cozy up with this book. My library only had it available however as an e-book and the Cloud Library had a bit of issue with the pictures. I would have really liked to have looked at the photos that were often used to illustrate examples, but they were always cut off. There was no way to zoom in or zoom out. And while I could make the text on each page smaller or larger, it had no effect on the photos. My library did work with Cloud Library and the publisher to see if it could be fixed. They recreated the problem and thought they had fixed it, but nothing changed on my end, not logging out, not returning the book and checking it out again, not rebooting my phone or deleting and reinstalling the app.

So not hygge. 🙂

In any case, I got some really great nuggets of info from this book. Hygge can be described as a peaceful feeling, one of contentment, such as how one feels when they feel safe, secure or having a good time. I liked this quote:

“Hygge is a state of being you experience if you are at peace with yourself, your spouse, the tax authorities and your inner organs.” ~ Tove Ditlevesen

Also, the Danes are serious about their lighting. Most of them light candles every day. But one chapter of this book went as far to suggest the right kind of bulb and its color temperature in degrees Kelvin for the best kind of warm lighting!

Hygge is relaxed, informal and inclusionary. Danes don’t like so much to brag or be in the limelight. During times of hygge, no one talks of politics nor pushes the envelope.

~

How to Hygge:
The Nordic Secret to a Happy Life
by Signe Johansen (nonfiction) – worth a read

Here ^^ Sophie Jean is telling me to stop learning how to hygge and snuggle with her instead. Shouldn’t that be hygge enough? Truth be told, it is. But Sophie has an independent mind of her own and doesn’t always come to snuggle with me when I call her. {Unlike Miss Phoebe!} Instead, she gets to determine when we snuggle. I guess we know who runs our household.

This book was written not by a Dane, but a Norwegian food writer, which shows that the hygge pours over to the rest of Scandinavia. You’ll get a hefty dose of Scandinavian recipes {especially sweets!} in this book. A few things I learned:

  • Scandinavians are active every day – no matter what the weather! Throughout these books, I keep seeing the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  It’s normal to just snap on some skis and go for a quick glide around the neighborhood in the winter, even in urban areas. Otherwise, Danes bike everywhere – taxes are 170% on cars.
  • Spending time in nature is common and important. Studies show that “spending time in nature means you are less prone to brooding”. Okay, Carrie, go for a walk, there’s no need for that runner’s high to be beneficial!
  • Bring the outside in. Scandinavians love to use natural materials to build furniture (often wood) and bring the outside in. My dentist office was newly decorated on my last visit and I felt like someone had read up on hygge…
  • “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth,” ~ Epicuris. Scandinavians teach their young not only to “survive”, but also how to flourish individually in society.

~

Happy as a Dane:
10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World

by Marlene Rydahl (nonfiction) – worth a read

Okay, this wasn’t exactly a book on hygge, but I’m sure you can guess that hygge was not left out of this book as one of the reasons the Danes live a fulfilling lifestyle! In fact, I learned a lot about the Danish mindset from this book. I won’t go through all ten points, I’d rather you pick up the book yourself. It’s a quick read.

The first “secret” of the Danes is not really even a secret at all. It’s something that has been ingrained subconsciously in their culture, their society. I don’t think it’s something any of us, especially in the U.S. can change individually and expect our lives to change or be happier:

TRUST

There are two specific examples of trust that stood out to me that I could never see working where I live, nor most places around the globe!

  • Farmers Markets – You won’t see farmers selling produce there. But what you will see is a jar in which to place your cash when you take what you need, as well as a few coins, in case you need to make change. The farmer comes back to collect the earnings and anything leftover at the end of the day.
  • Babies – It’s not uncommon for parents to leave strollers with their sleeping babies out by the curb while they run in to a store or sit and have lunch or coffee with someone, just as if they are sleeping in the other room. Around here, I know some people tie their dogs up outside when they run in, but I wouldn’t even do that!

With a tax rate near 60%, Danes have to trust that their money is being put to good use. And they do – most Danes are happy with what they’ve got, don’t strive for the big bucks and feel like they are investing in the greater good.

EDUCATION

  • Education is free at all levels
  • In fact, those going off to college will generally receive about $900/mo to pursue such.
  • The focus in education is not to be high-performing, but to find your personally fulfilling place in society.

~

I think many Americans already practice a sort of hygge in their lifestyles without realizing it because we don’t really have a word for it. I think it is the feeling you get around the holidays when you are bundled up and drinking hot chocolate or visiting loved ones even when the weather is frightful, because that fire really is so delightful. But it’s also that feeling you go up to a cabin in the summertime, where you are enjoying the outdoors and not necessarily any of the amenities you have in own home. It is the feeling you have when you curl up with a good book and a cup of tea or glass of wine. It is having candles lit and making friends and family feel welcome and comfortable in your own home. It is snuggling with the dog and walking in nature and hanging out with friends who make you feel comfortable and included.

These are all things many of us do already, any time of year. But maybe the key to happiness is to actually make the time to do them more often.

Have you read any books on 07?
If so, what do you think hygge means to you?

Cheers~
Carrie